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Front Page » Transportation » Plans for Metrorail to north forecast to be derailed

Plans for Metrorail to north forecast to be derailed

Written by on February 23, 2021
Plans for Metrorail to north forecast to be derailed

A Metrorail extension may be among the rapid transit upgrade proposals Miami-Dade receives for the 9.5-mile commuting route between the northernmost Metrorail station and the Broward County line, but it’s not what will ultimately be built there, Commissioner Joe Martinez said.

Miami-Dade expects in spring to receive responses to its request for proposals (RFP) for elevated transit on what the county calls the North Corridor, which runs along Northwest 27th Avenue beginning at the Martin L. King Jr. Metrorail station.

The likelihood of any of those proposals being both a long-promised Metrorail stretch and feasible, however, are nil, according to Mr. Martinez.

“[An] RFP may go out for rail, but in our world – or at least mine, where the sky is still blue and grey, not pink – it’ll never get done,” he said, citing cost projections that say building Metrorail could cost up to $250,000 per new passenger it attracts.

Adding difficulty to the matter, he continued, is that the funding mechanism meant to pay for the North Corridor upgrade and five others identified in a 2016 plan to expand and improve transit across Miami-Dade is drying out.

The half-percent sales tax known as the half-penny approved in 2002, which voters enticed by the promise of county-wide Metrorail service, has generated more than $3.7 billion, said the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, the group that oversees funds the tax generates.

But according to information former mayor Carlos Giménez and Chief of Policy and Budgetary Affairs Jennifer Moon gave Miami-Dade officials and press in a September 2018 presentation, the half-penny will stop being able to support new transit expansions by 2024. It will be entirely tied up with debt service and contributions to cities, which get 23% of the tax’s annual revenue, and require support from the county general fund, they said.

“So yes, [the RFP] is going out there,” Mr. Martinez said last week. “People feel good. They listen to it. They hear about it. But the money just simply isn’t there.”

Miami-Dade’s transportation planning board – comprised of all 13 county commissioners, several municipal representatives and a school board member – loosened the language of a pending RFP for the North Corridor in February 2020 to allow for modes other than rail to be considered.

The board in October 2019 had selected an elevated fixed guideway “with a preference for rail” on the corridor between Northwest 79th and 215th streets.

State and county consultant WSP recommended Metrorail, which would take eight years to finish and was the second-costliest option behind monorail, at $1.9 billion.

But in less than six months, several commissioners started to walk back the decision, including Barbara Jordan, then the long-serving commissioner for Miami Gardens, the city the corridor mostly serves, who was behind the February 2020 move to loosen the RFP language.

Audrey Edmonson, then the county commission chairwoman, said she saw “nothing but issues” with building Metrorail.

WSP, which compared the mode with automated people mover, monorail and urban magnetic-levitation train, found that Metrorail easily was best in terms of ridership, with an estimated 16,200 daily riders, including 7,500 new users.

Every other transit solution, WSP said, would attract half that or less.

7 Responses to Plans for Metrorail to north forecast to be derailed

  1. D.C.

    February 24, 2021 at 7:43 am

    It has been argued for decades that the original half-cent tax wasn’t big enough. So why not make it a full penny? It’s worth it.

  2. Gerwyn Flax

    February 24, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    If the money was dedicated only for the expansion of Metrorail instead of being squandered for general maintenance of the entire transportation system, it would have accumulated more than enough money to fund the expansion. Another half-penny tax would never pass a county vote again. I can’t help but wonder if this was planned for Kendall or West Dade, wouldn’t it be completed by now? The

  3. Alvin Thomas

    February 25, 2021 at 8:28 am

    Miami-Dade missed the opportunity for
    an extensive heavy rail system over 30+ years ago. Several errors in judgment were made including not developing a sales-tax base to augment operation/maintenance. Also, the Urban Mass Transit Administration was using the Washington, D.C. WAMATA as a model for providing federal funding for new mass transit systems coming online. That model was eliminated by the Regan Administration. So, why has no consideration been given LRV (streetcars)? Southern cities with efficient LRVs include Charlotte, Dallas, Houston. Has the planning committee ever studied cities with extensive LRV systems?

  4. Jerry Johnson

    February 25, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    The question is, why do our politicians continue promising Metrorail when they know it is never going to happen? > the Bus Rapid Transit is another failed attempt to placate frustrated constituents > seems to be obvious we need to focus on infrastructure improvements to get traffic to actually flow > this involves grid connectivity, widening many corridors, improving traffic signaling, and any other recommended solutions to get gridlocked traffic to move > County government needs to get off their political butts and actually get stuff done to ease the growing frustration of their constituents.

  5. Miamiman

    February 26, 2021 at 1:20 am

    They never used the half cent to expand mass transit as promised so we shouldn’t support more taxes as they will be diverted to paying for items not promised…Miami always resorts to bait and switch! Tech companies are you listening????

  6. William Martin

    February 26, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Talk to Mr. Musk. He may be able to build a subway line for half the cost.

  7. Grady Muhammad

    March 13, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    The original line went up North, but politicians voted to change it and send it to Hialeah instead. Black community be dammed